My Car Boot Sale Haul

Miss Thrifty6 July 22, 2012

Car boot sale haul - button pot

Car boot sales are so hit and miss. Last week when I was visiting family in Essex, I visited a car boot that I have frequented on and off for years and years. Oh, the bargains you can find there: clothes I bought 10 years and am still wearing, kitchenware and even Thrifty Baby’s Moses basket stand. But last week: nothing. A right load of old tat, and stallholders moaning that the punters didn’t want to stump up more than 10 pence for anything.

Recently I attended a car boot sale here in Yorkshire, at the local racecourse, and fared far better. Such is life… It also provided me with an opportunity to continue with my mission to spend my fund. As you may recall, the comparison site sent a bunch of bloggers £100 pre-paid credit cards, with the brief to go and find some bargains. After my charity shop haul, I had £58.00 remaining.

My rule of thumb at car boot sales is to go along with a mini-shopping list in mind, and a little leeway for a couple of extras. Otherwise I just splurge, which would be fine if I didn’t live in a small house. There isn’t much room for nice-but-pointless clutter here. This time, my shopping list was as follows: high chair for Thrifty Baby, good quality cookware, laundry basket for the nursery (that baby generates an awful lot of laundry), a pot for buttons, plants and damned good books.

I didn’t do too badly. The other strange thing about car boot sales is that if you have something in mind, God tends to provide, no matter how random it is (a Moses basket stand, say). I started with the glass pot above, £1.00. (No, I didn’t haggle: it was a charity stall.) I needed something to keep all the spare buttons and sequins and bits and bobs – you know, the bits that come in little baggies when you buy new clothes. This sorry little pot has since had a good scrub – and is perfect.

I also bought a small forsythia from the same stall, for 75p:

Car boot sale haul - plant

I love forsythia. I love it in the spring, when it’s all dank and grey out there, and then the forsythia turns a beautiful yellow and lights up the garden. My garden could really do with that.

I bought two “leeway” items, both of them royal memorabilia. I like the retro stuff, not your new-fangled Jubilee pieces. The older, the better! Here’s a Queen Mum mug, which was £1.00:


Car boot sale haul - mug

And here’s a battered tin, which cost 50 pence. It’s small, about the size of the button pot, and it’s sitting here on the desk while I work out what to put in it:

Car boot sale haul - royal tin

My mum, who is a car boot sale demon but who only buys proper things, thinks I am crazy for buying this stuff. What can I say? Although, to be fair, the other items I bought were relatively sensible.

Since we put up a saucepan rack in the kitchen, I have realised that our cookware is sparse, and that (Le Creuset aside) a lot of we do have is knackered. That’s the downside of having all the pans close-up at eye-level. So at this car boot sale I was on the lookout for a couple of good pans. Until this car boot sale, we only had one saucepan (this one). This was partly because I am fussy about my cookware. I like my pans to have good, thick bottoms. But those pans tend to be the expensive ones.

Then I chanced on this copper-bottomed Viner’s saucepan, barely used, for £2.00:

car boot sale haul - saucepan

By this point the car boot sale was coming to an end, and some of the sellers were beginning to pack up. The best time to be at a car boot sale, I’ve found, is right at the beginning or right at the end. If you are there at the end, many of the best items will have gone but you can pick up steep discounts on what remains. Generally, sellers want to get rid of as much as possible so they don’t have to take it all home again. And plenty of them bung their unsold, unwanted items straight into bin bags, to take to a local charity shop. If you want to negotiate on price, it’s the perfect time.

This is how we came up trumps with Thrifty Baby’s laundry basket (not pictured, because I’m in the middle of painting it). We saw a seller loading unsold crockery into a wicker basket with a lid, so we rushed up, did a haggle and it was ours for £2.00.

Finally we spotted one of these:

Car boot sale haul - pasta pan

It’s one of those fancypants pasta pans with the built-in colander. You cook the pasta in it, then lift out the colander part to drain it.

Car boot sale haul - pasta pan insert

When I say we spotted it, we couldn’t really miss it. It’s more of a vat than a pan. It was sitting all on its lonesome on a trestle table, while the seller packed up around it.  Although it was unboxed, we could see it was new: the user instructions were still folded inside. We haggled the seller down from £13.00 to £7.00. She seemed quite put out. I don’t know why: she didn’t have to sell it. We love it. We have been eating a lot of pasta…

So here, in summary, are my top tips for getting the best bargains at car boot sales:

1. Go right at the beginning, or right at the end. I prefer the end: you get steeper discounts, and a lie-in.

2. If you don’t want to come home with crateloads of useless frippery, have a mini-shopping list in your head. It’s amazing how much you can find in the boxes and on the tables, if you are determined to seek it out.

3. Haggle. If you hate haggling, you’ll do better at the end, when a lot of sellers are desperate to shed as much stock as possible. 

All in all, it wasn’t a bad haul at this car boot. We took it all home in the laundry basket. The total came to £12.25, which left me with £45.75 on the card.

We didn’t find any great books, which was unusual. What I really need, though, is the high chair. There were a couple there, and at the car boot sale in Essex last week, but they were horrible. Think squishy brown vinyl, taking up a disproportionately large amount of floor space. The search continues…



Did you enjoy this post?

Free Daily Digest

6 Responses to “My Car Boot Sale Haul

Helena Petre says:

Have you got a local Freecycle or freegle group? I got lots of baby stuff from my group some years ago.
I got some pegboard on Saturday fro my mum. It is very hard to get hold of now without buying 12 sheets at once! best of all, it cost me zilch.

July 22, 2012 at 10:47 pm

Happy Mum says:

Hi there. Love your stuff!!
We live in a small cottage too (teeny weeny in fact) so I completely understand the seeing something you love at a car boot sale but then having to leave it as there is just, quite literally, NOWHERE for it to go!
We had the same highchair dilemma. We were given one for free which looked like a reasonable size in my Mum’s house and “ooh look it folds up so it won’t take up much room”. WRONG: it was MASSIVE when we got it in our kitchen! Plus, once up, the seat reclined backwards a bit (which I have since found lots of others do too) and our little one likes to sit upright. After much searching at car boot sales and looking on freecycle etc, the smallest highchair we found was the one that is EVERYWHERE from IKEA. I would have loved something more vintage or pretty, but from a practical perspective, the size, the way it easily comes apart so you can take it to people’s houses who don’t have a highchair and, importantly, the price (£15 new including the table top), plus the fact that our little one knows exactly what he’s doing when eating out as these highchairs seem to be everywhere means it’s ideal, just not a thing of beauty. But bearing in mind the fact that he has taken over every other room in the house with all his paraphanalia, this is just another thing! Bet you could get a second hand one cheaper still! Have you looked at the ones that fix to chairs? If you have a table and chairs up all the time (we live in the flip-up world!) then you could get a seat that fixes to the chair that way it won’t take up any more extra space. Good luck! x

July 23, 2012 at 7:42 am

lexchad says:

The Ikea Antilop highchair is a bargain. No, it’s not beautiful, but then neither are the cutesy chairs once your baby has filled every crevice with muck! They are easy to use, easy to clean (on bad days I just put mine in the shower for a rinse), dry quickly, don’t break and are cheap. I love ours. Hope you find the chair for you.

July 23, 2012 at 11:42 am

Miss Thrifty says:

Ah, this IKEA high chair! Lovely people on Facebook have recommended it to me today too. And it’s only £16. AND it rinses off in the shower. I think it’s my dream chair… Well, Thrifty Baby’s dream chair anyway. I’m in! Thanks for the tip off, y’all. 🙂

July 23, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Thanks for the tips for finding bargains at boot sales. I’ve never been to one, but I’m tempted to take your advice and see how well I can do!

July 30, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Leave a reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *